The first months in the real estate business are sure to be a challenge; getting your name out, finding clients, and securing your first listings are no small tasks. So how should brand new real estate practitioners go about establishing themselves in the market and start to reel in business?
The short answer is to build a database and use contact management software to maintain a relationship with people you know and meet. Frequent and steady contact lets them know you take your business seriously and you want them as your clients, which is flattering to anyone.
But the long answer is much more complex. First, you must consider how you want to work, who your best prospects are, what is an appropriate method of contacting these people, and what you can do to show prospects that you can offer them value.
Then you must refine your business strategy and focus on acquiring clients—which, in turn, will lead to listings. Here are the steps you should take to generate your first listings:
Decide What Kind of Business You Want to Build
- Avoid a common mistake of many new practitioners and don’t spread yourself too thin. You've already stated that you want listings, so let's start there. Ask yourself if there is a way to narrow your search for clients with listings. Most practitioners accomplish this by choosing a neighborhood to farm, or by specializing in a certain type of home, such as new homes in master-planned communities, older homes of historical interest, or condos and town homes. Is there an area or type of home that interests you? By focusing on a niche, you can become known as the expert.
- Don't be afraid that you will miss business by not becoming a general real estate practitioner. You have to keep your time, advertising costs, and other limiting factors in mind. If you’re going to farm a neighborhood, a good way to start is by hanging fliers, sending mailers, and knocking on doors to introduce yourself.
Remember, Everyone You Meet Is a Prospect
- Have an open mind as to where you can develop these potential customers. Appropriate contacts are people you want to do business with. Many practitioners start with family and friends, but don't stop there. Remember that people like your dry cleaner, barber, fitness trainer, and others you see often have already met you. It’s a lot easier to do business with people who know and like you.
- Include groups of people in your database you don't see often. These can include former school chums, club and church members, sports acquaintances, business networking coffee groups, and neighbors. You'll be surprised at how many people you know.
- Ask each person for their contact information, especially e-mail addresses. Tell them you want to send them some information about what you're doing, and that you hope to help them one day with a move. The worst that can happen is they say no, and the best is that they give you the information that one day leads to a sale.
Ask Permission to Contact Prospects
- Ask the people you know and meet how they prefer to be contacted—by e-mail, business phone, cell phone—and if it would be OK for you to keep them posted about the marketplace. You can do this with e-mail newsletters, postcards, phone calls, and other means.
- There aren’t many renters who don’t wonder if the time to buy is now. You can keep renters informed about new building projects in their neighborhood, affordable properties, and how prices are changing month to month. People are interested in opportunities, so that's what you want to keep in front of them.
- Most homeowners are interested in how well their home is doing compared to the open market. Even if they have no immediate plans to sell, they enjoy knowing that their home is worth “X” amount more than what they paid. They also enjoy knowing local market conditions that affect the value of homes. Who knows? You might send them a piece of information that encourages them to make a move.
- Even though you don't have a lot of experience, you can sound like an expert by paying attention to what is happening locally. Do this by reading the local paper and staying in touch with your local chamber of commerce or visitors’ bureau to find out what's happening. Your local association should have meetings and special information for their members so you will know about new housing developments or a new company transferring employees to town.
Don’t Underestimate Your Value
- Don't worry about being new to the industry. There is plenty of support for new practitioners if you know where to look. Don't be afraid to quote your local association or MLS when it has homebuying statistics or news to report. Attend association meetings and listen to what the guest appraisers, developers, and city planners have to say. Join a networking group. Keep building your Internet skills.
- Your previous career or school experiences can be valuable to homebuyers and sellers. Use it! If you’ve ever rented a home, bought a home, worked with numbers, managed or worked with people, decorated a room, bought a boat, scaled up or down in residence, you have valuable insights for your prospects.
- You also have powers of observation. Listen carefully when people talk, and you'll soon hear those tell-tale signs that they might be considering a change. Drive your neighborhood, and note which houses are looking improved. You'll get a feel for which neighbors to chat up—is the one putting up a new roof thinking of selling?
- People appreciate enthusiasm and are inclined to give new people a chance. If you don't have the answer, say so, but you can immediately follow up by saying you know where to get it.
- Get help if you need it. Offer to help a top producer with an open house, so you can watch a pro in action. Don't be afraid to partner with another salesperson on a listing until you learn the ropes. Take advantage of every training session your broker or association provides, and hire a coach if you think it will help you.
Don't lose hope. Getting your name out there is the hardest part of being new to the business. But if you follow these suggestions, and show a willingness to serve your clients' needs, you'll soon have enough business to keep you busy.
(c) Copyright 2005 Realty Times. Reprinted with permission.